The Committee to Recall Aaron Peskin failed to live up to its name earlier this year when the effort fizzled with a lack of signatures and organization. Now Peskin haters calling themselves District 3 Citizens for Good Government say they will file paperwork with the Department of Elections this week to circulate a new recall petition. The rallying points include the supervisor's unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the city Department of Environment this fall, his late-night phone calls to department heads, and the $20,000 donation his campaign committee received from Clear Channel Outdoor to support the Muni reform Proposition A days before Peskin voted to grant the company advertising rights on Muni bus shelters.
(Peskin has told reporters he had no knowledge of the donation when he voted, and the city Ethics Commission said the company is responsible for any possible violation of the city anti–influence buying laws, not the supervisor.)
"The villagers have been upset for a long time, and we've had it," says Karl Beale, a member of the new recall group, who is also a board member of North Beach Neighbors. "I think it's just spontaneous combustion."
We broke the news to Peskin last week after spotting him on a Muni train, at which point he stared at us intensely wondering if we were "some sort of freak case" playing a prank, he'd say later. "This is the same handful of disgruntled folks who are now authoring their third recall attempt," he said, calling it "political harassment" and adding, "At this point, it's gone from the ridiculous to the sublime."
Beale denies that it's the same handful of disgruntled folks, yet he refused to name any of the other organizers currently helping him.
The latest recall threat seems to be, from a practical standpoint, a colossal waste of time. The earliest the petitioners can get it to the voters is on the June ballot; Peskin will be termed out of office a few months later in January 2009. Even if the petition fails, Beale says the campaign will "educate" voters about Peskin's record before he can run for another office (although he insists he's done with electoral politics).
Peskin suspects the would-be recallers know they won't get enough signatures by the mid-January deadline. So what does he think is their real motive? Bad press for their enemy, of course. "I think it's designed so you'll write a little squib like that," he says, widening his thumb and forefinger to about the length of the article you're reading right now.